By Collin Kelley

Last month the Midtown Alliance announced the creation of Greenprint Midtown – a community-wide action plan that will integrate sustainability throughout the neighborhood, establishing the area as the South’s first urban eco-district.

The goal of Greenprint is to find solutions to energy and water challenges, clean transportation options, community green-space, and recycling and reducing waste. A four-month planning session kicked off in March with a well-attended community meeting at One Atlantic Center.

The planning effort will be guided by the Midtown Alliance in partnership with Southface, a nonprofit organization that has promotes energy, water and resource-efficient communities, and Sustainable Atlanta, founded in 2007 to serve as a catalyst and facilitator for sustainable progress in the City of Atlanta.

“Greenprint Midtown has been percolating for well over a year,” said Kevin Green, president of the Midtown Alliance. “A team has been working to get all the pieces aligned and then we received funding from the Atlanta Regional Commission, Kendeda Fund and Midtown Improvement District to really jumpstart the project.”

Green said Midtown stakeholders have already taken the initiative to become more sustainable as evidenced by the growing portfolio of LEED and Energy Star rated buildings, and their support of Midtown Alliance’s existing green’ programs.

“What’s been missing is a district-level plan to define a path forward and prioritize future action,” he said. “Through this effort, Midtown Alliance will undertake a strategic approach to creating an eco-district in Midtown by working closely with the community and technical experts to identify opportunities that are implementable, impactful and financially feasible.”

While the study progresses, some pieces of Greenprint will begin happening immediately, including a “pop-up park” at 12th Street (see the sidebar) and the installation of 50 recycling receptacles along Midtown’s streets before summer arrives. The bins will accept glass, plastics (types 1-7), paper and aluminum.

Also happening soon will be new streetscaping along Juniper Street with new vegetation that will help filter rain run off before it enters the sewer system. Midtown’s maintenance facility will also install a 3,000 gallon cistern to capture rainwater to use for landscaping projects.

What will the eco-district mean for businesses and residents? Green said market forces are favoring cities that are vibrant, walkable, have good transit links and have “green” practices in place.

“Tenants are looking for green buildings,” Green said, “and that’s good for owners because those spaces bring higher rents.”

By the time you read this article, Midtown residents will have likely participated in surveys and there will eventually be neighborhood workshops.

Green said by May that a more detailed outline of goals and benchmarks will be released to the public.

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Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.